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Market Commentary

February 6th, 2023

What do Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) and the current economic expansion have in common?

Author and humorist Twain was prematurely reported to be dead. It first happened in 1897. Twain was on a speaking tour in London when rumors that he had fallen ill and died began to circulate. Then, about a decade later, The New York Times reported that a yacht Twain was on had sunk.  

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January 30th, 2023

The vicious cycle of inflation.

Last week, we learned that pay increases at central banks in many parts of the world won’t keep pace with inflation. As a result, their employees may not be able to maintain the standards of living they had before inflation began rising. For example, at the United States Federal Reserve (Fed) the maximum pay increase was 5.1 percent for 2022. That’s significantly below inflation which averaged 8 percent last year, reported Jana Randow and Enda Curran of Bloomberg.

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January 23rd, 2023

“It’s hard to be a contrarian for very long these days because the consensus seems to change so quickly,” opined Ed Yardeni via LinkedIn last week.

We’ve certainly seen a shift in investors’ preferences during the first few weeks of this year. Despite widespread expectations that markets would move lower early in 2023, major U.S. stock indices have trended higher. 

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January 17th, 2023

Bullish or bearish?

After last year’s geopolitical turmoil, economic malaise, and tumultuous stock market decline, many financial professionals – from investors to asset managers – have strong opinions about what will happen in 2023.

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January 9th, 2023

It’s being called the “Goldilocks” report.

Last Friday, we learned that demand for workers in the United States remained strong in 2022. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in December. (It was 3.7 percent in November.)

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January 3rd, 2023

It’s finally over.

2022 was a dismal year for financial markets. Major United States stock indices moved lower, trimming or eliminating the previous year’s gains.

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December 27th, 2022

What a year!

In some ways, it feels as though we lived through several years in 2022. The onslaught of events included, “The first major European war since the 1990s, unprecedented sanctions, energy-price mayhem, bail-outs, global interest rates rising at their fastest pace in four decades, a faltering Chinese economy, an overheating American one, housing markets looking peaky across the rich world, [and] a crypto blow-up for the ages.”

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December 19th, 2022

Bad news is bad news, once again.

For months, investors have cheered bad economic news. When the United States economy showed signs of weakness, stock markets often reflected investor enthusiasm. The thinking was that bad economic news would persuade the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of rate hikes. Inflation would slide lower, and recession would be avoided.

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December 12th, 2022

What comes next?

The U.S. stock market tends to be a forward-looking vehicle. Investors make decisions today based on what they think may be ahead for the economy, and how economic change may affect the companies they’re considering for investment.

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December 5th, 2022

What will it take to slow this economy down?

In 2001, railway workers slowed a runaway train in Ohio by latching a second engine to the back of the locomotive and applying the brakes. In all, the train traveled sixty-six miles over two hours, decelerating from a maximum speed of 47 miles per hour to 10 miles per hour before workers regained control of it, according to CNN.

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November 28th, 2022

There was a shift in the winds of monetary policy.

Last week, it became clear the Federal Reserve (Fed) had softened its hawkish stance. The minutes of the central bank’s November policy meeting indicated the Fed was likely to slow the pace of rate hikes soon. There was a caveat, though.

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November 21st, 2022

Thanksgiving and football go together like turkey and stuffing.

For some families, though, this year may be more like a turducken, stuffed with American football and the sport the rest of the world knows as football (soccer). The men’s World Cup, which is played every four years for national glory, the Jules Rimet trophy, and millions of dollars in prize money, began on Sunday and will end on December 18.

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November 14th, 2022

Last week was remarkable for many reasons.

One reason is that sky watchers around the world had an opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse. The moon, Earth and sun aligned, causing the moon to appear crimson. We won’t see another total lunar eclipse for three years, reported Denise Chow of NBC News.

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November 7th, 2022

It's the lag time.

To no one’s surprise, the Federal Reserve continued to battle inflation last week, raising the federal funds rate for the fourth time this year, reported Claire Ballentine of Bloomberg.

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October 31st, 2022

Some companies are doing better than others – a lot better.

It’s earnings season; the time when companies share how well they performed during the previous quarter. Earnings reports are important because...

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October 24th, 2022

Markets turned – again.

Markets continue to be volatile. Last week, stocks headed north. Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s reported the change of direction reflected investors’ desire for the market to finally hit bottom.

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October 17th, 2022

We’re not there yet.

Investors are understandably eager for the stock market to hit bottom. Some hoped it happened last week, but it did not. 

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October 10th, 2022

The fight continues.

Last week, OPEC+, which includes the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied oil producers like Russia, chose to cut production by two million barrels a day. The stated goal is to keep crude oil prices above $90 a barrel.

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October 3rd, 2022

The third quarter marked a change in attitude.

So far, 2022 has been a tough year for investing. We’ve experienced an unusual phenomenon – the simultaneous decline of stock and bond markets. Throughout the third quarter, investors’ concerns focused on global instability, rising prices and the...

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September 26th, 2022

Central bank tightening sparked recession fears.

Last week, the Federal Reserve (Fed) raised the federal funds rate for the fifth time this year. During 2022, the Fed has lifted its benchmark rate from near zero to 3.12 percent. Fed policymakers indicated that they expect to raise the rate again this year. That’s going to make borrowing more expensive as rates on credit cards, home mortgages and business loans increase.

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September 19th, 2022

It’s open to interpretation.

Jackson Pollock was an action painter. He poured, dropped, and dripped paint onto horizontal canvases. Some people look at his work and wonder why it’s highly valued. Others find deep meaning in the paintings. For instance...

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September 12th, 2022

Central banks are hawkish. Stocks popped higher, anyway.

Last week, despite signs that inflation is slowing, U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) officials emphasized their commitment to tightening monetary policy to lower inflation. Several indicated they anticipate a third consecutive rate hike of 75 basis points, reported Craig Torres and Matthew Boesler of Bloomberg.

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September 6th, 2022

You may have heard this one: Don’t fight the Fed.

The Fed is the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. Among other things, the Fed influences monetary conditions in pursuit of price stability and full employment. As we’ve seen recently – with unemployment low and inflation high – the Fed’s job isn’t simple or straightforward.

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August 29th, 2022

Markets were tuned to the signals coming from Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

During World War II, United States armed forces often relied on high-powered radio sets to communicate. When determining whether transmissions were garbled by static or obscured by the sounds of battle, the sender would ask, “Do you read me?” If communications were easily understood, the answer was, “Loud and clear.”

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August 22nd, 2022

Is this a bear market rally or a new bull market?

Investment professionals are in the middle of a heated debate. Since mid-June, United States stock markets have moved higher, regaining about $7 trillion as many investors who had sold shares during the first half of the year began buying again, reported Lu Wang of Bloomberg.

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August 15th, 2022

Rally caps were waving.

In recent weeks, investors have embraced the idea that economic data will persuade the Federal Reserve to slow the pace of rate hikes. Last week’s inflation data fanned their enthusiasm.

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August 8th, 2022

The strength of the United States economy continues to surprise.

If you have ever been camping, you may have banked your campfire by covering the hot coals with ash. It’s a process that keeps the coals burning low so the fire can be easily rekindled. The U.S. Federal Reserve has been trying to bank the fire of U.S. economic growth – and it’s proving to be challenging.

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August 1st, 2022

Investors thought they heard a dovish note from the Federal Reserve and markets rallied.

Last week, we learned from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) that economic growth in the United States slowed for the second consecutive quarter.

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July 25th, 2022

A lot of people are worried that a recession may be in our future. Some think it may already be here.

Unemployment is low (3.6 percent), and inflation is high (9.1 percent). Both tend to occur when an economy is experiencing strong growth. That makes it difficult to believe the United States is in a recession, but some data is pointing that way.

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July 18th, 2022

Happy may not be the right word, but Americans are feeling more optimistic.

Last week, headlines blasted the new inflation numbers. Prices were up more than 9% year-over-year in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). When you dig into the numbers, energy prices were up 41.6 percent year-over-year and food prices were up 10.4 percent. 

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July 11th, 2022

Rising inflation is a bit like a child throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store.

The red-faced parent, in this case the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), tries to calm the child. Sometimes, it works and the child calms down (soft landing). Other times, the child won’t settle, and the parent takes more extreme action, like leaving and coming back for groceries later (recession).

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July 5th, 2022

The first six months of 2022 have earned a place in history books.

2022 is likely to become part of the lore passed from generation to generation. Stories will be told about this bear market, as well as the remarkable political and social events that have occurred in the United States and elsewhere. Here is a brief look back at the last three months.

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June 27, 2022

Last week, bad news was good news.

Consumers were feeling blue in June, according to the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey. The survey scored sentiment at 50, which was the lowest level on record. Surveys of Consumers Director Joanne Hsu reported that 79 percent of consumers anticipate business conditions will decline during the next 12 months, and almost half indicated they are spending less because of inflation.

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June 21, 2022

The fight against inflation intensified.

Last week, the Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered a message that it is serious about fighting inflation. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lifted the federal funds target rate by 0.75 percentage points. The fed funds rate is now 1.50 percent to 1.75 percent.

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